The Impossible Triangle

Posted on 01/09/2015 by Karen
I was consulting with a client of mine, Gary Edwards, and we were chatting about client expectations. I mentioned something that I call ‘The Impossible Triangle’. I can’t remember who told me about it, and it was years ago, but I have since found that it occasionally comes in very handy.

So what exactly is The Impossible Triangle? Here’s how I show my clients. I draw a triangle (not a tricky one like this) and at each corner I write one word. Good. Quick. Cheap. I then explain that you can have 2 out of 3, but you can’t have 3 out of 3. Which one would you prefer to miss out on?

The shoe repairer who asked their customers to choose

Gary then shared a story with me. He told me about a shoe repairer who, on the back of their docket, had 3 boxes printed, each box with one word next to it. Quicker. Cheaper. Better. He then got the customer to tick 2 of the boxes. That way, the shoe repairer got the customer to decide — before their job was done — what the most important things were to them.

What a very simple but effective way to find out exactly what your customer’s expectations are! I can’t help but think that if we all did a version of this, there would be far fewer disputes having to be taken to Consumer and Business Services or the law courts…